Why do fish look at me
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Fish can recognize human faces, study shows
You are running late for work, there is a long line at your local coffee shop and your engine light just turned on. Sometimes, we just have stressful days. In humans, it is fairly easy to determine when someone is stressed. In many cases, just asking someone about their day will provide you all you need to know. In other cases, facial expressions are often sufficient to let us know somebody is having a bad day.
But what about our fish? How can you measure distress in them? Therefore, we need to look at behavior to determine whether our fish are stressed.
We need to work at developing regular routines in caring for our fish and the aquarium s so that the likelihood of new problems arising, and the accompanying stress, are minimized. Fish have evolved to mask their illness.
They are masters at looking normal and healthy, even with severe disease issues. This evolutionary trait is a protective mechanism that limits the likelihood that a predator will spot them in a school of fish and attempt to catch them for an easy meal. Of course, this makes our jobs more difficult as aquarists. If we are only spending a small amount of time with our fish, we may not develop the observation skills we need to know their normal routines.
This is one of those cases where you get to make the excuse not to mow the lawn or pick up the kids toys. You need to spend time watching your fish to help prevent the likelihood of problems. For me, it is a perfect excuse to enjoy a cup of coffee and relax in front of my aquariums. When you spend time watching your fish, you will note that they have specific physiologic functions or behaviors that change when they are distressed.
The functions and behaviors that I like to monitor are:. Appetite is an important behavior to monitor. Fish have relatively few functions in life. Eat some more. Pretty simple. Growth and reproduction are dependent on the fish having sufficient energy available; any change in appetite or eating is an indication that something is wrong. Skin and gill flukes can cause significant disease in fish.
In many cases, these parasites are at low burdens, but their numbers increase when fish become stressed. This becomes a real problem for fish that are sick. However, it is important to not confuse a lack of appetite from stress with the provision of the wrong diet. Fish have evolved to feed on different types of diets. They can be herbivores, omnivores or carnivores. It may not be uncommon to see some fish mouth their food and then spit it out.
Of course, feeding the wrong diet itself can be stressful to the fish and needs to be remedied. So, why is a decreased appetite a sign of distress? Stress can induce a flight or fight response. If you are a neon tetra, your fight response is not very high; instead, you tend to flee. If you are under duress and constantly in flight mode, then you will spend more time watching out for what might attack you than looking around for your next meal. Eventually, this catches up with the fish.
The lack of food intake energy leads the body to catabolize its energy stores e. The lack of new digestible energy food also leads to a reduction of the energy available for other important functions, such as immune function. Ultimately, this may make the fish more susceptible to infections. It is important to know if a fish is an active swimmer that is constantly looking around its environment for food or mates e. Some fish may appear quite lazy and dull e.
Clown loaches are commonly found lying on the substrate or oscar fish laying on their side, as if taking a nap. If you stimulate them, they will perk right up. Following up with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause for the change in mentation is needed so that it can be corrected. When humans or animals are stressed, respiration rates increase. This is in preparation for a fight or flight response. By increasing our respirations, we increase the oxygen concentrations available to our tissues.
The best way to measure breathing for most fish is to count the number of times their operculae gill covers move. If you are looking at sharks or stingrays, measure spiracle and gill slit movement.
Boney fish or teleosts are the most common type of freshwater and marine fish in aquariums and ponds. These fish have four gills in each gill chamber. Sharks and stingrays have five to seven gills on each side. The respiratory system of fish is very efficient.
Blood flows through the gills in the opposite direction that water is moving past the gills, which maximizes the off-loading of toxins and uploading oxygen. Any change to this system can decrease its efficiency and lead to problems for the fish. These problems stimulate the gills to secrete mucus as a protective measure; however, this mucus covers the gills and limits the direct water-gill contact necessary for gas exchange and off-loading toxins e. When there is increased mucus production, the fish increase their respiration rate to off-set this reduced efficiency.
It is good practice to know the normal respiration rate of your fish, so that when things are abnormal, you will be able to spot it. Respiration rates of fish can vary widely 20 to 80 opercular movements per minute under normal conditions. Swimming activity can tell us a great deal about how a fish is feeling.
Fish have evolved with a specific anatomy to allow them to make their way through the water, and there is a huge diversity among the 25,plus species of fish in the world. For example, the modifications of the pectoral fins of stingrays or anal fins of knifefish allow them to undulate gracefully through the water.
The stress and injuries fish experience will leave them vulnerable to disease. When assessing swimming activity, first determine if the activity is increased or decreased. Darting through the water and frantically swimming are indicators that the fish are under duress and that the problem is acute recent. In many cases, these activities are associated with other fish in the aquarium and may include conspecifics the same species or water quality issues. Elevated ammonia, nitrite or chlorine concentrations can be irritating to the fish and cause them to try to swim away from the problem.
Unfortunately, in a closed system like an aquarium, there is nowhere for the fish to escape. When swimming activity is decreased, it typically indicates a chronic problem. These fish tend to be those mentioned previously that also have a decreased appetite and mentation, and their swimming activity is decreased because they are weak.
When a fish is under duress, its colors, which are influenced by the endocrine system, can fade. The endocrine system is responsible for hormone production, including the stress hormone corticosterone. Corticosteron can lead to fading, and this fading is often one of the first signs of fish distress.
Maintaining beautiful colors requires energy, and when in distress, fish are not taking in energy food or they are directing it toward more vital functions e. It is important to recognize that it is impossible to eliminate stress completely. Complex systems, like an aquarium, are always changing, and these changes create new challenges for the individuals living in the system. But this can be a good thing. Stress provides vertebrates, like fish, challenges to their behavior and physiology that make them more adaptable.
For example, while the diet of African cichlids in the wild may include plant materials, zooplankton or other fish, many of these fish readily adapt to flake foods or pellets, which look nothing like their native foods and may initially be a stress until they figure out that this food provides the energy they need. The problem with stress is when it becomes chronic, excessive and inescapable.
As noted earlier, fish that are provided an inappropriate diet, are constantly under duress from the aggression of a conspecific or other tank mate, or are housed under less-than-ideal water parameters, will not find that the stress makes them more adaptable; instead, it may kill them. Fish are the only group of pet animals that live and breathe in the same place that they eat and use the bathroom. Because of this, it is possible for toxins e.
When fish are presented to me at my veterinary practice, water-quality issues tend to be a primary, secondary or tertiary issue. Novice aquarists or pondkeepers might not fully understand the inorganic chemistry involved with maintaining good water quality.
In these cases, water-quality issues can be primary stressors to the fish. High ammonia can lead to increased mucus production on the gills and body. Affected fish will become tachypneic breathe faster as a result of the reduced potential for gas exchange at the gills. Affected fish will also produce increased mucus on the body as a result of the irritation of the ammonia.
Fish may rub against surfaces within the aquarium because of the irritation burning caused by the ammonia. These cases are easy to identify. When water serves as a secondary or tertiary issue, it can be more difficult to determine exactly how fish are affected by the water. The pH fluctuations that are mild may cause these types of stresses. Having a low alkalinity low buffering capacity may allow for minor fluctuations in pH throughout the day based on other parameters e.
Because pH is based on a logarithmic scale based on orders of magnitude where differences between two numbers are multiplied by a value , these small changes are actually larger than they appear. Regardless of whether these water problems are a primary or secondary issue, they can represent an unnecessary stress to the fish. It is important for aquarists to test their water regularly. Under certain conditions, such as a new system, this may be daily, depending on stocking densities, while for established systems it may be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.
Fish Behavior Basics
You might think you know your pet goldfish, but its origins and biology are stranger than you ever guessed. Goldfish are a bit "meh", aren't they? They're not as popular a pet as cats or dogs, presumably due to the deplorable lack of cuddles.
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11 Reasons Why Your Fish Keep Dying
I am a living, breathing, sentient animal. I can feel content, confident and well. I can feel fear, hunger, discomfort, stress and illness. I may pine for a lost tank mate, a lost partner. I can have likes and dislikes, friends and enemies. I can communicate with others. I can socialise, collaborate. I can interact with other fish, other animals, even humans. I can see, hear, sleep, taste, process information.
Four secrets your goldfish is hiding from you
An overly stressed fish will eventually die. You would probably think back to what you did that day. I mean, your fish were fine yesterday, so the cause of death must have happened today, right? Setting up an aquarium is easy — grab a glass tank, fill it with water, add your dechlorinator.
So I was snorkeling with my boyfriend at Molokini in Maui, Hawaii and we were the only people there. I was swimming and looking at everything and I looked up and noticed that trigger fish were all around me, and that happened a few times to where I then realized they were actually following me, there were tons of trigger fish following me. My boyfriend said he saw a trail of trigger fish behind me too, and he was a little farther behind me and were not following him. Did I for some reason attract them?
6 Signs of Happy, Healthy Fish
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Though you may not spend much time playing with your fish, it is important to understand their behavior, just like any pet. The way your fish is acting can tell you if he is healthy or sick, if the aquarium water is properly maintained, and many other things. Here are some common fish behaviors and what they mean:. Hiding Fish: Hiding is completely natural behavior for most fish, especially when they are first introduced to their new aquarium. Just make sure you keep your fish comfortable and healthy, and he should start coming out of hiding more readily. Fighting Fish: If your fish are fighting, it generally means that they are not a compatible fit to be housed in the same aquarium.
I’m Not Just A Fish
CNN Can your pet fish recognize your face? Jamie K. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Oh hi, this archerfish is probably saying after seeing you. Story highlights Scientists have found fish can recognize patterns in the human face Fish can synthesize more complex information than originally thought. Researchers studying archerfish found the fish can tell a familiar human face from dozens of new faces with surprising accuracy. This is a big, big deal.
My home aquarium contains gallons of saltwater and extends about 6 feet in length and 2 feet in height. It is tastefully decorated with rock formations and it is inhabited by an assortment of fish with beautiful colors and shapes. It came as a surprise to learn that studies suggest that just as I enjoy peering into their underwater world, the fish are enjoying their view of my living room as well. What must my fish be thinking as they watch my family members sitting on the couch, moving about searching for lost keys or stealing a cookie?
Can Pet Fish Recognize Their Owners? Research Says Yes
Why would fish be following me?? - Maui Forum